“When I first applied to Sauti Academy, I admit that I didn’t understand its purpose and goals as an Artist Development course. I was mainly attracted to the atmosphere of different like-minded artists with similar ambition and passion. Sauti Academy has been nothing short of tolerable, motivational and patient to me through my long journey with them.
Throughout my growth till 3rd term, I have learnt evermore the skills required to be a professional musician from the capabilities required to be able to sing in a studio and the marketing ethic needed to survive in the Kenyan market. I have learnt more and more to maintain belief in myself especially on stage. I also discovered how the growth of an aspiring musician is very individual and shared at the same time. I’ve also learned how to allow myself to be vulnerable in order to connect with other musicians and possible audiences. Uniqueness is a gem I’ve grown to cherish instead of regret. Sauti academy has done a lot to push me to connect with the other students. This was how I constantly got the positive criticism I needed to truly grow. When working with other creative minds, my eyes have opened to the fears we have shared and difficulties we have faced.
During my second term with Sauti Academy, I performed with a live band for the first time which for me was my biggest achievement and most electric musical experience. Due to this my music has become more defined and I have gained more confidence.
The outreach program where I taught young students for a short while at the Bul Bul primary school has been very humbling. To give back what I have been given has been a very great gift and I hope to continue working with outreach programe and ASAP foundation long after I graduate.
I got to work with Zonda, Mishel and many other upcoming artists during Sauti Academy’s end-of-term concerts which was an un-believable musical exposure and performance experience.
I have also learnt a lot from my mistakes on and off stage. I wish I could think of negative aspects of the academy but to me, the academy has done all they can to nurture and expose us towards our musical futures.”
‘”Ah, music,” he said wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”’ – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.Terror. That was the first emotion to take over my being when I thrust myselfinto the Sauti Academy building. At the same time, I had a bit of reassurancebecause some of my friends were already in the academy. So I nervously shuffledinto the miniscule but inviting entrance. However. Pride DOES come before a fall. I suppose knowing that people you sang with for four years are already in the academy may give you false hopes somewhat. So I went into the room the auditions were taking place when my turn arrived, my audition wasn’t that great, and my head was firmly brought back to the ground by gravity. Fortunately, the teachers saw something in me, and I was put into the Raw Talent program.
The Raw Talent program was begun for those ‘baby’ musicians who had talent, yes, but had not necessarily honed it enough to get directly into the academy. At first I was not thrilled, but I quickly realized that it was what I needed at that time. And I wanted, and still want to be the best musician I can be. So for three months, I worked hard, I worked smart. And I became better. So when my second set of auditions came up, I was wiser, and several degrees humbler. My decision was to do the best I could, and to keep in mind that I wasn’t the only one with talent. Also, I learnt to be true to myself. I will forever be grateful and honoured that I was given a slot in the academy.
First term. It was the term that was the most fun, it was the term that began with absolute strangers and ended with an eclectic mix of family members. It was the term we recognized our voices as instruments, and began to know our voices and what we could do. Vocal techniques were thrust upon us by Natalie like candy on Halloween. It was also, absolutely terrifying at first. But it got easier, as everyone slowly got used to each other. I learnt the power in my voice (I used to sort of…whisper sing, I didn’t trust my voice enough to pull an Aretha roar). It was the ‘cover songs’ term. We learnt how to breathe while singing, how to support our voices, how exercise is important to maintain breath. Our voices are absolutely different, but we somehow managed to blend them, when we jammed. We also accepted our ‘strangeness’, as the layman would put it, loved our absolute weirdness, felt safe in each other’s company, because we were same, but different. Our end of term concert completely epitomized that.
Second term. Super intense. This was the songwriting term, and it served to open up our minds. Personally, I found it difficult, not because I couldn’t write, but because I wasn’t sure I could write music. Poetry and pose is one thing, music is another… And doubts flooded my mind, my heart, and my soul. I just wasn’t sure that I could do this. Everything I wrote seemed to be absolute crap, in terms of structure, mostly. Flow. I was lacking flow in my songs. And depth. I was afraid of being vulnerable, and it affected the way I wrote. It was difficult to finally let go and write from my heart… but I somehow unlocked that chamber and did what I should have been doing from the beginning. Apart from that, we had a flash mob, which was scary and exhilarating at the same time. We experienced the reaction of Kenyans at the city centre as we promoted peace during elections through song. It also exercised our audibility and brought us closer together, as we bonded with the then first term students. We also got to organize the end of term concert, Beats and Pieces, for the then first term students, and for us, which had quite a turnout.
Third term. As it unfolds, we are thrown into the murky waters of music business, and how to make money off of our music. It is also very intense, as we have to organize our graduation concert as well as prepare our graduation portfolio. We also need to rehearse with our own bands, which means rehearsal time and space for our individual 25-minute sets. We’re hoping for the best!”